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News Article  | PSL

The Afcon Effect

The Afcon Effect

By Soccer-Laduma - Jan 16, 2013 10:25 AM

Injuries, possible transfers, a loss of league focus. All of these are issues that club coaches have to take into account when they send their players off to the African Cup of Nations, knowing full well that their season could be directly affected by what happens over that month.

Growing up in England where there is no Afcon break, I’ve seen it time and again where a talented African player has forced his way into the first team of a club and gotten himself to a stage where he’s an important part of the side, only to leave for a month right in the middle of the season.

 

He goes to represent his country, as would I if I was in that position, but comes back weeks later when his side have lost their momentum or missed his presence to the degree that they’ve dropped significantly in the league, or worse, he returns with an injury that sees him miss even more than that month.

 

In the English Premier League especially, the early part of the new year is crucial. It’s often make-or-break time for the club and if you’re an African player that has to leave then you may be replaced by another new signing. It’s not difficult to see why Steven Pienaar decided to retire. It was what he felt he needed to do to further his career in the big leagues.

 

In the PSL things are slightly better, though not by much. While South African teams are graced with a proper break for the African showpiece, the break itself can prove to be a stumbling block. Think of it this way, you’re in a rich vein of form, challenging for the league title and all of a sudden you face two months without a proper game, only training sessions and friendlies. It’s not ideal, is it?

 

Let’s take Kaizer Chiefs as an example. They’re top of the league, have had a great start to the season and because of that have seven players in Gordon Igesund’s squad for this year’s Afcon, more than any other team.

 

Itumeleng Khune, Siboniso Gaxa, Tsepo Masilela, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Yeye Letsholonyane, Bernard Parker and Lehlohonolo Majoro are all first teamers for Stuart Baxter’s Chiefs side. Should Bafana have a good tournament and reach the final, they will only get done on February 10th, just two days before an important league game with Mamelodi Sundowns.

 

Also, on the other side of the coin, should Bafana not live up to expectations later this month and crash out of the tournament in the early stages, that could dash players’ confidence and leave PSL coaches with repair work to be done.

 

Meanwhile, Orlando Pirates have four players in the side, once again, all first team players, and they will have to face SuperSport United three days after the final.

 

Even if the players come back without niggles and knocks, they’re bound to be tired. They haven’t had any real time off since the PSL took its break, due to mini camps and so on, following which they have been plunged into one of the toughest tournaments in world football.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that any player should ever turn his back on his country. For me, it would be country over club any day of the week. What I’m saying is that the tournament should be moved to a more convenient time of the year and take place every four years rather than every two, like the European Championships, so that players aren’t forced to make a club v country decision that often turns out to be a country v career decision. 

 

Another problem, from a PSL coach’s point of view, is that the African Cup of Nations is like a shop window, parading Africa’s best talent to all and sundry. Say Bernard Parker has a great tournament, he’s already done well in the league, has European experience and could be an option for a club needing a striker like him. Chiefs could lose him. Likewise with your Oupa Manyisas and Thabo Matlabas, they may attract serious interest.

 

Representing your country should always remain the pinnacle of your career as a footballer. Being chosen to be part of an elite group considered to be the very best in your country is a huge honour. I just feel that it shouldn’t be an honour that puts your career as a player in jeopardy.

 

Joe Crann


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Pythagoras-ABC Joined: 23 Jan 2014
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Pythagoras-ABC Apr 20, 2014 08:25 AM
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Pythagoras-ABC Apr 20, 2014 08:25 AM
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janenew Jan 23, 2013 03:48 PM
hello dear how are you doing today, can you send me an email now because i have something to tell you janebabyshow@yahoo.com thanks as i will be waiting to hear from you now
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Ezimnyama_madoda Joined: 11 Dec 2012
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Ezimnyama_madoda Jan 21, 2013 12:19 AM
typical Zebra fan. Shut up ndoda
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makheykhey Joined: 20 Jul 2010
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makheykhey Jan 18, 2013 05:37 PM
ohhhh, well said Joe,,,,,hopefully SAFA and all football committee will consider all that truth about our beautiful football and start strategising the best way of playing this tounament cause really thats true players used to be affected a lot,,,,,thanks for your words......me and you see this issue the same way...this should be addressed and recorrect.......for the love of the beautiful football of Umzantsi.....well said well said.
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YouthDevelopment Joined: 03 Aug 2012
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YouthDevelopment Jan 17, 2013 02:42 PM
'Racists who underestimate your tournament?' - the only racists on this thread are the ones making derogatory remarks about Europeans. This article very honestly looks at the effects the timing of AFCON has on the African players themselves. They have worked hard for their careers and as things stand, are actually jeopardising their own career progress by having this big chunk of time out to play for their country mid domestic season. The AFCON is a wonderful tournament, but the timing of it could be better thought through, and of that there is no question.
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kaizer_freak Joined: 28 Aug 2012
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kaizer_freak Jan 17, 2013 01:56 PM
Dis blog z spot on dis is all true tx nt only abwt Europe bt injuries n possible transfers those who support teams dat have no or less players in da squad will disagree bt for the likes of chiefs n pirates t might b costy coz their players can b bought or injured I'd dat case n t might nt b easy to replace them nw
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ntu2zelo aka N Joined: 13 Aug 2010
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ntu2zelo aka N Jan 17, 2013 01:56 PM
We r Africans boet we won't change 4 those racists who underestimate our tournament
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Velile99 Joined: 15 Jan 2013
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Velile99 Jan 17, 2013 01:54 PM
Bloody europeans
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kickoff Joined: 15 Feb 2010
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kickoff Jan 16, 2013 09:28 PM
You are lost dude
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Unknown Citizen Joined: 01 Jul 2010
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Unknown Citizen Jan 16, 2013 08:27 PM
Look jy this is African for Africans not Europeans. We wont change things to suit Euro teams, they bought our African players knowin very well they'll hv 2 leave 4 Afcon every 2nd year. Stop this thing of always comparing Africa with Europe, SA with England, Chiefs with ur 3rd tier team

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